Thank you, Donald Trump, for reminding us that “Words Are Spirits”

standard October 12, 2016 3 responses

My mother always told my siblings and me that we better watch what we say to one another because “words are spirits.” She said it so often that I grew up believing that this exact phrase could be found word-for-word in the Bible and I was shocked when it produced no search results.

Yet the spiritual principle of our words carrying power remains.  And not just any power, but the power to invoke life or death.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”  Proverbs 18:21 (AMP)

I am sure that when Donald Trump spoke those extremely vulgar and sexist words eleven years ago, he was not thinking that they would bear the consequences that they have in October of 2016.  He saw himself as a reality star with such popularity and fame that whatever derogatory statements he said against women in general was perfectly fine and acceptable. After all, it’s just “locker room talk.” Right?

Well, not exactly, Donald.

You see, when we allow our tongue to boast, we are not only considered immature, but also filled with corruption setting “the whole course of one’s life on fire,” (see James 3:6).  Please hear me. I’m not saying that Donald Trump is going to hell for what he said eleven years ago, but I bet that he is feeling like his life has been set on fire right about now due to his lewd and loose tongue. The comments that he so carelessly spoke concerning women will have eternal implications for him, as they should. Women are not objects to be used and thrown away. They are precious in the sight of their Creator.  But please also hear this: if we want the respect we deserve, we as women have a responsibility to carry our body in a manner worthy of respect. The halt of the vicious cycle of the objectification of women starts with us!

And therein lies the lesson for those of us who wish to reflect the light of Christ in our everyday lives.  We must aim to control the things that we say and do. Will we get it right 100% of the time? No, not at all.  In fact, James also said that we all stumble, but it is the mature woman who keeps her body in check in action and in speech.

That means that when we are tempted to want to speak that ugly word to our sister/friend we remember how just last week she played with our children so that we could go grocery shopping or listen to the sermon at church.  It could also be that when we are arguing with our spouse, we take the high road and resist the urge to want to retaliate with hurtful words.  Or if we have children and we are trying to get their attention on a certain matter, we speak words of life and encouragement over them instead of words of manipulation.

It’s a choice we are making to see that person as not only a human being, but as someone who has been made in God’s likeness.  We treat him/her with respect and dignity.  It does not mean that we are a doormat or that we accept abusive behavior.  It simply means that we recognize that “words are spirits” and we attempt to speak life over those that we come into contact with, not death.  We strive to let them be filled with fruit, such as kindness and gentleness, so that when we bear the consequences of the things that we have said, it will be a sweet taste in our mouth.

This is not intended to be a political post with a nod for or against Trump as the next United States President.  It is simply a chance for us to learn from a man who allowed his tongue to get the best of him and resolve to not let that same mistake to happen to us.  We will choose to remember that each and every word we utter holds the power of life and death. Words Are Spirits.  

Deep: A Bible Study Conference

standard September 23, 2016 5 responses

What a blessing it has been to be a part of Deep: A Bible Study Conference!  Thank you to all those who came out to join us and Heartfelt Ministries for this amazing time in God’s Word. I pray that you left encouraged and empowered to go “Deeper Still” in your walk with the Lord.

Together we examined John 17:17, “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.” Below is a recap of the steps you can use to get the most out of your time in God’s Word.

Bible Study Tools for Your Everyday Life:

  1. LOOK ~ What do I see when I answer these questions:
    • Who?  Jesus is praying to God the Father
    • What?  Jesus is praying for His disciples after He has comforted them with His final words of encouragement (ending with John 16:33)
    • When and Where? After the Passover dinner/Before His arrest
    • Why? Because He loves the disciples and He knows what is about to take place (His crucifixion)
  2. LISTEN ~ What is God telling me through His Word?
    • Context: What comes before and after the passage?
      • The disciples have obeyed, accepted, and believed the Word of God.  Jesus asks for protection of the disciples from the evil one. They are not of the world, but they are being sent into the world for the sake of the gospel.
    • Content: Examine each word  
      • “Sanctify” is hagiazo which means “to be set apart” or “to be holy as God is holy”
      • “Truth” is a repeated word relating to the disciples’ sanctification and the Father’s Word
      • “Word” is given by the Father and spoken by Jesus
    • Compare to other Scriptures
      • John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the Truth!
      • John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is the Word!
    • Culture: Then vs. Now
      • Jesus (the Word) was physically with the disciples
      • Today we have God’s written Word, the Bible
    • Commentary
      • New American Commentary on John 17:17, “Truth is here related to the word (logos) of God.  But truth and the word in John are not merely ideas. They are to be embodied in people the same way that the word became flesh. Since God is holy, God’s people are to be holy.”
  3. LIVE IT! 
    • How does this truth apply to my everyday life? 
      • I must accept God’s Word as the ultimate truth in my life
      • I need to have the discipline to set apart time to read God’s Word daily
      • I should allow His Word to sanctify me (to make me holy as He is holy)
    • What one thing can I implement today in order to shine the light of Christ?
      • Facilitate a Bible Study
      • Start a Scripture memorization group
      • Host a worship night in my home

Online Bible Study Tools:

My favorite apps that I mentioned are The Holy Bible app by YouVersion, She Reads Truth, and Superbook for kids.

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What are your favorite Bible study tools? Please comment below.

Do All Lives Matter?

standard July 17, 2016 5 responses

Recent events have left no doubt that our country is broken and hurting.  We are especially heartbroken in Louisiana today at the news that three police officers have been shot and killed and three additional officers are injured during a senseless ambush attack in Baton Rouge. This attack comes on the heels of the loss of Alton Sterling, an African American man who was shot and killed as he wrestled with two police officers on July 5, and the loss of five Dallas police officers in a sniper attack on July 7.  Everyone’s emotions are running high. We respond with posts bearing hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #bluelivesmatter, each with extremely valid reasons of why these particular lives do matter.  The #gaylivesmatter community is saying, “Don’t forget about us…we are hurting too.”  So we come up with an all-inclusive #alllivesmatter.  And, yes, all lives DO matter.

So, what is the solution to all the chaos we are currently facing and how can we do our part to promote healing?  And where is God in all of this?

When Paul was writing the Book of Philippians, he was facing days of uncertainty and dire circumstances (think oppressive Roman imprisonment).  Yet the over-arching theme of this book is for the church at Philippi to have JOY and UNITY despite their circumstances as Paul was striving to do in his own life.  He gives these simple instructions that also applies to our current reality as much as it did to the early church.  The solution lies in these words:

“Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.”  Philippians 4:5

Could it really be that easy? Well, I suppose it depends on what your definition of “easy” is.

Gentleness, a fruit of the Spirit, is used in this verse as an adjective meaning that not only are we to be considerate of others, but we are also to treat people in a manner that is “fitting, right, or equitable.”

The word for all is πᾶς meaning just what you think it does: each, every, whole, ALL.

God is telling us that we are to treat each and every person that we come into contact with on a daily basis with consideration and view them as equitable in God’s eyes.  Whoa! Take a minute and let that soak in.  If we are all equitable in God’s eyes, then why are we still stereotyping each other? And therein lies the rub. We all want to be viewed as if our life matters and we want to be treated in a fair and equitable manner.

But most definitely, killing is not the answer; anger is not the answer; retaliation is not the answer.  Love is the answer; peace is the answer; gentleness is the answer.

But why can’t I just live my life and you live yours? Why do I have to be considerate of others and their feelings?

The answer is this: Because the Lord is near.  This does not mean the Lord is near as in the Holy Spirit is among us (even though He is), but this is better translated as “People get ready! Jesus is coming!” 

If we really believe that all lives matter, then we have an obligation to not only be considerate, but also to be the Light.  Pointing others to Jesus, telling them of a Savior who values their life so much that He gave His own life.  Ultimately, Jesus is the answer.

So, you see, healing is never “easy,” but you and I can do our part to show the world that all lives matter by doing these two things in our everyday lives:

  1. Let your gentleness be evident to all. To the black police officer who took a vow to protect you. To the young white man you pass on the street. To the person bagging your groceries. To your gay coworker. To the waitress serving your food. To your spouse. To your children.  To ALL.
  2. Let your light shine. The world is watching and waiting to see how we will respond. Resist the urge to speak out judgment or condemnation on others who are different than you.  Rather speak the name of Jesus…the Name above all names…the only name that saves.

He is near and He is the original author of life.  His desire is that everyone (all) would come to repentance and know Him as their Savior (2 Peter 3:9).

He is a God who truly believes that ALL LIVES MATTER. 

The Next Step

standard June 22, 2016 4 responses

Now that I have made it through three years of seminary and have graduated with my Masters in Theological Studies, many of you have been asking me what my next step will be.  It’s a valid question and one that my husband would like the answer to as well!

The spiritual answer is: I’ll do whatever the Lord tells me to do.  But the more accurate answer is: I don’t exactly know yet.

When I began this journey several years ago, I felt a calling on my life to be a Bible teacher to women.  That call was confirmed by the Lord through people who I respect in the faith.  I had already been leading a Women’s Bible Study at my church, but I felt the Lord calling me to go deeper.  I felt that I needed to be better equipped if I was going to be a professional Bible teacher, which led to seminary training.

And now that I am trained and equipped, I am ready to hit the ground running and produce a little ROI (that’s a financial term meaning Return On Investment) for all those tuition expenses I incurred for our family.  Yet, there is no job waiting for me.

Instead, my future is a wide open space with several different paths that could be taken.  It’s exciting and scary at the same time.  There are endless possibilities and opportunities, but knowing when and how to start is a little daunting.

It’s going to require (dare I say it?!) FAITH.

But isn’t that what walking with the Lord is all about?  Taking that next step in faith, and then another, and then another.  Sometimes we’ll stumble a bit, and other times we may fall flat on our face, but we’ll let our Savior pick us back up, dust us off, and set us back on the right path.  And other times we will see so clearly the victories He has supplied us with and we will rejoice and celebrate.  Step by step we’ll just keep exercising our faith until we’ve done all we can in this lifetime and then we’ll walk straight into His loving arms.

So for now, I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other by writing that next blog post for Reflecting Light, sending devotionals to Lifeway Women and other venues for publication consideration, speaking at Women’s Conferences (contact me!), asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate the path I’m supposed to take.  Knowing that with each step taken I can stand on His promise with confidence that He who began this good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

What next step is the Lord asking you to take in faith?  I’d love for us to walk together.  We can encourage each other to press on in this walk of faith knowing that there is strength in numbers and that our faith is grown when we step out of our comfort zone.

Will you join me?  Yes?! Then let’s go!

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Do it, Lord.  Illuminate the path You would have us take today.  Keep us moving ahead, taking those next steps in FAITH knowing that You are faithful to complete that good work in us that You began all those years ago.  Let us reflect Your light to the world and may You always be glorified with each step we take.  Amen.d1ebd3d4457ed37c130ef2fa090d4542

Top 10 Things I Learned in Seminary

standard May 25, 2016 7 responses

My graduation from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was just a little over a week ago and in case you couldn’t tell from my social media posts, I’m just a little excited to be done!  I thought I would share with you, Dear Reader, a few things that I have learned these past three years while obtaining my Master of Theological Studies.IMG_3303 (1)

#10: A Theology Class is NOT a Bible Study.  At the beginning of my very first class the professor had us stand and give a brief explanation of why we were in seminary.  I remember that I was excitedly telling everyone how I had led a Bible Study for years and I felt like attending seminary would help me go deeper in my walk with the Lord.  And then I felt like an idiot when the first slide on the lecture was: This is a theology class.  Not a Bible study (open mouth, insert foot).  But, the good news is that I did indeed get a chance to “go deeper” into God’s Word…even if it wasn’t in the way that I was expecting.

#9: Sometimes the appropriate theological answer is “both/and.”  Is Jesus fully God or fully human?  Is the Lord a God of wrath or a God of mercy?  To these questions and many more, the answer is “both/and.”  It is confusing, I know, but remember when God said this in Isaiah 55:8-9?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Yeah, sometimes you just have to reconcile the answer to “both/and” and let God be God.

#8: Learn to see Jesus in the Old Testament.  News flash for ABR over here!  For all my thirty-some years I had kept the OT and NT completely separate: Old Covenant vs. the New Covenant; Law vs. Grace.  Not realizing that Jesus is written all over the pages of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.  Not only was He spoken of in the OT, but He was there!  At the creation of the world, in the Garden of Eden, in the fiery furnace, just to name a few.  I’m telling you, this was an exciting revelation for me.

#7: The key to passing is usually just to turn something in.  Seriously.  I am a perfectionist and it was killing me to get everything turned in on time and and in perfect Turabian format (if you don’t know what that is, consider yourself blessed).  But the more I progressed in my studies, the more I realized that the professors had their own lives too (gasp!) and they only wanted to know if you read/understood the material.  I’m not saying don’t do your best, especially on the big assignments, but I wish someone would have told me that the majority is just busywork and if you turn something in, you’ll pass.IMG_2889

#6: The difference between mercy and grace.  Mercy is when God DOESN’T give us what we DO deserve (i.e. death).  Grace is when God gives us what we DON’T deserve (i.e. eternal life with Him).  Isn’t that beautiful?

#5: When interpreting the Bible, context matters.  Oh my, did they ever drill this into us.  This is an entire class in itself, or at least a separate blog post, but the main point is this: when you see that inspirational Scripture hit your news feed, be aware that there was specific author who wrote to a specific audience during a specific time in history.  Yes, God’s truths are timeless, but if you will read your Bible in context, you will be able to draw out so much more for your own personal application.  That said, if all you can manage right now is a quick verse/devotional, then check out the First 5 app from Proverbs 31 Ministries and do that daily!  Let God’s Word permeate into your spirit and you’ll be surprised how the Spirit will bring it to mind when you need it.

#4: Get yourself a mentor.  Quickly!  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed someone more seasoned than me to help me pull my head out of the clouds and keep my feet on the ground.  This person for me was Brother Jerry.  Over several cups of coffee he reminded me to cultivate an intimacy with the Almighty (see #1 below for more info).  But you don’t have to be going through seminary to have a mentor.  Find someone who will invest in you spiritually and then be willing to pass that knowledge along as you grow.IMG_3304 (1)

#3: It takes a tribe.  And lots of screen time if you have young kids.  No kidding, there is absolutely no way I could have done this without the support of my family and friends.  For every single one of you who prayed for my papers/tests, listened to my sermons, watched my kids, or shared my blog, please know I am beyond grateful for you!

#2: You don’t have to “be in ministry” to have a ministry.  I mean it, Y’all!  You do not have to have a seminary degree to lead a Bible study on your lunch break at work, to start a prayer group at your kid’s school, to volunteer at the women’s shelter, to write a blog/Facebook posts to encourage others in their walk with the Lord, to be a mentor to the younger generation, etc.  You have a specific calling and purpose.  Pray about what God would have you do for His glory and then step out in faith and DO IT.

#1: Spend time WITH God.  There’s a little joke out there that the word seminary can be interchanged with the word cemetery.  A tragedy can occur in the way that what is meant to be an opportunity to teach students the deep things of God sometimes results in the driest spiritual season of his/her life.  This happens because the student is so busy learning ABOUT God that he/she fails to spend time WITH God.  I’ll admit that this happened to me.  It wasn’t until my last year of seminary that I carved out a specific hour each day to read and pray, and I am convinced that it made all the difference in the world.  Especially with how the Lord helped me finish.  I’ll tell you like Brother Jerry told me: take time to cultivate an intimacy with the Almighty and prepare to be amazed as He opens your minds to great and mighty things!  c48bd8a8270b6d9ade2686872764f934

Hands and Feet

standard March 25, 2016 Leave a response

It’s been over two weeks since Northeast Louisiana was drenched by torrential rains and flooding.  We received over 24 inches of rain in a short amount of time and the water had nowhere to go, except to flood entire neighborhoods and homes.

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Evacuations were issued.  The young and the old were leaving by boats in the middle of a severe lightening and thunderstorm.  Some waited it out, only to find that they would be trapped inside their home for days until the water slowly receded.  It was especially sad to see home after home filled with water and belongings just floating among the rain soaked walls.

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But as the sun finally began to shine on our community, so did the church.

It didn’t take long before disaster relief teams were formed and entire church bodies were mobilized and sent out to the neighborhoods that were hit the worst.  I witnessed one such congregation come to the home of my friend whose home had been flooded with several feet of water.  These men and women worked swiftly and tirelessly to remove her furniture, rip up her stinking carpet, salvage what they could, and sweep out the remaining water.  And when they were done with her home, they moved on to her neighbor’s home, and then the next home.

They did not do it for pay or recognition.  They didn’t even do it because they had a personal relationship with the homeowners.  They did it because they believe that they are the hands and feet of Jesus.

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And then came the food.  In the south we believe that feeding others is one of the top ways that we should show each other love.  And we did it well.  Those that flooded in my neighborhood had both lunch and dinner delivered faithfully by the local churches and volunteers.  One church I know provided over 10,000 meals to the surrounding community.  I was blessed to be able to work on my own church’s cook team and I’ll just say the eatin’ was good!  Hands and feet of Jesus delivering meals.

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“Hands and Feet” was the term that I heard over and over again throughout these past few weeks.  St. Teresa of Avila painted this beautiful picture that I believe encapsulates our community so well:

“Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.”

Today as we reflect of Jesus’ death and the nails that pierced His own hands and feet, I am thankful to be a part of His body.  A body that believes in extending love and compassion to others.  A body that does not sit idly as neighbors suffer, but are willing to get their own hands and feet dirty.  A body that reflects His light.

Happy Good Friday, Friends! Thank you for being His hands and feet!

When Valentine’s Day Makes You Feel Unloved

standard February 10, 2016 Leave a response

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and everywhere you look there are stuffed teddy bears holding red hearts, big balloons with “Be Mine” stamped across it, and rows and rows of chocolate.

But what if Valentine’s Day holds no joy for you and the thought of all those happy couples feeding each other chocolate-covered strawberries is enough to make you want to scream…or at the very least, eat a whole bag of conversation hearts?

Such was the case for me one particular Valentine’s Day.  I was in high school and did not have a boyfriend or even the prospect of one.  All that week my school was taking orders for Candy Grams to be delivered to the one you were “going with” or “had a crush on.” (Sidenote: Candy Grams are most certainly from Satan.)  Needless to say, I was having serious anxiety about going to school that day knowing that all my friends would be receiving multiple Candy Grams and I would be left feeling unloved, unpopular, and every other kind of “un” you can think of.  Yet each time the classroom door would open for a Candy Gram delivery, a little bit of hope would spring up inside of me: A Candy Gram for me? Sike!

Well, someone must have seen my misery because that Valentine’s Day morning when I went out to my car there was the most amazing surprise waiting for me!  Helium balloons with “Be My Valentine” written across them filled the space in the tiny car and on the driver’s seat was a box in the shape of a heart filled with Russell Stover’s chocolates with a note that simply said, “Your Secret Admirer.”  I drove to school that day on cloud nine with the biggest smile on my face, wondering to myself: Who could this wonderful Secret Admirer be?  And how did he know that I loved Russell Stover’s candy?  That’s the very same brand that my dad always gets my mom for Valentine’s Day!

That day I didn’t care how many Candy Grams were passed out to other girls.  I had a Secret Admirer and I felt loved…even if I did suspect that the admirer was pretty close to home.

You have an Admirer too, Friend!  He longs to lavish you with sweet surprises and love.  He sends you Valentine’s notes with things like,

How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh how beautiful! (Song of Songs 1:15)

I will go before you and I will be with you.  I will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I am abounding in love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15)

That’s better than a plain old Candy Gram, don’t you think?  It’s endless love from a faithful God who thinks you are the most beautiful woman He has ever seen.  And you are beautiful, you know.

If you find yourself this Valentine’s Day without an earthly Valentine, that’s ok.  Pick yourself up a box of chocolates and shake off the urge to want to strangle the stuffed bears.

Remember that you have Someone who loves you to the moon and back.  Literally.

 

It’s Just a Season

standard January 27, 2016 Leave a response

Our family has a saying that we commonly use if things in our lives start to get crazy and we begin to feel overwhelmed:

“It’s just a season.”  

I have always loved this expression because it helps remind me to take a deep breath and remember that whatever I am going through is just for a season and this particular season won’t last forever.  My dad also says, “It’s not eternal,” which is essentially the same thing, but it helps put things in a spiritual perspective.

I wonder if you’re feeling like me today and you need the reminder that the season you are currently in is not eternal, even if it may feel that way at the moment.  Maybe you are a young woman waiting on Prince Charming to make his grand appearance into your life and you are beginning to think that he should learn how to stop and ask for directions based on how long it’s taking him to get to you (Been there!).  Or maybe you’ve just had your first baby and you now have firsthand knowledge of why sleep deprivation is used as a torture tactic to break down the minds of criminals in the prisons (Can I get a witness?!).  Or possibly you have a loved one serving overseas and you are counting down the days, hours, and minutes until he/she is safely home.  You tell yourself, “It’s just a season, right?”

That’s exactly right.  And thank the Lord, we are not alone in all this.  Solomon (as in the wisest man who ever lived) did some pondering of the seasons as well in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

For everything there is a season,
  a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
  A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
  A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
  A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
  A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
  A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
  A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
  A time for war and a time for peace.

The wonderful thing about these verses is that every “low” season has a counter “high” season. Part of living in a fallen world is dealing with hard or low seasons, but if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we are guaranteed victory.

Are you in a time of planting in your job or at home?  There’s good news! A harvest is coming.
Is God telling you to tightly hold on to something, or is it time to let it go?
Has your heart been torn apart by a severed relationship? Your God can tenderly mend it.
Are you rightfully grieving an unthinkable loss?  Take hold of the promise that you will dance again.

It’s true. For everything there is a season.

But here’s the best part!  Solomon goes on to tell us in verse 11, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”  

Isn’t that the truth?  Even though we cannot see how this season will work itself out, God sees! And not only does He see, but He makes the result beautiful.

The takeaway from today’s Reflecting Light is this: should you find yourself in a challenging season of life, remember that God is in control. Take a deep breath in and release it slowly.  Close your eyes and repeat after me,  “It’s just a season.”  And then believe in your heart of hearts that everything is made beautiful in its own time. 

What’s Your “Word” for 2016?

standard January 13, 2016 6 responses

Years ago at the church I attended, our pastor would always encourage us to adopt a specific word for the year.  I thought this was a great idea in theory, but I never took the time to actually implement it.  Boy, was I missing out on a simple joy that this life has to offer!

Speaking of joy, fast forward several years to 2015 where my friend Lesli adopted the word Joy for the year. You may remember her post JOY: A Choice, Not a Feeling.  I watched her take this word and run with it. And guess what? Joy permeated her entire year.  And not just hers but also those she came in contact with.  It was truly a joy to be around her.

Another good friend of mine chose the word Love to focus on for the year and she noted how crazy it was that she would see the word everywhere around her…in her news feed, on her favorite brand of clothing, and in verses of Scripture that she had read a hundred times before but never really noticed the word love.  It got to where so many others knew her word was Love and they would send her text messages or post to her Facebook wall whenever they saw the word.  How nice to be known to others as love!

So how does one go about picking a word for the new year?  Well, there are several ways.

  1. Think of something that you’d like to work on in the new year.  Not just as a new year’s resolution, but something that you will carry with you throughout the year.  One great idea I heard was from a friend who wants to improve her self-discipline (i.e. putting limits on entertainment; doing the hard things first instead of procrastinating).  Now, that’s a word!
  2. Choose something you want more of in your life: Gratitude, Peace, Patience.  The list is endless.
  3. Let the Holy Spirit lead you to a specific word. Now, of course I know that He will be at work in the above two ways as well, but this approach is just strictly having Him lead you to a random word.  Such was the case with the selection of my personal word for 2016: Hope.   A precious friend of mine gave me a stack of cards on HOPE.  At first, I was thinking, “I’m digging it. Hope for the future, and all that.”  But when I really sat down to think about it, there IS so much for me to be hopeful about in 2016.  Hope for my mom’s total healing from breast cancer.  Hope for my girls and their continued spiritual growth.  Hope for this new Bible study that has formed that I have the honor to teach.  And such an expectant hope of where God wants to take Reflecting Light as a ministry after my graduation in May.  The Holy Spirit whispered to my soul, “Take it, April.  Pick up the word Hope.”  So I did and I am loving what He is teaching me through this “not-so little” word.

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Once you have your word selected (or in #3’s case, given to you), take some time to look it up.  You can go to Blue Letter Bible and plug your specific word in and voilà…every verse containing that word will be listed and you can study it in-depth with their study tools.  It’s so easy and you don’t ever have to be intimidated by an old-school concordance again.

Lastly, let the word take up residence in your heart and in your actions.  If your word is gentleness, let it be evident to all (Philippians 4:5).  If it is self-discipline, memorize 2 Timothy 1:7.  If it is hope, then study the book of Jeremiah and learn exactly what God meant when He said He will give us a “hope and a future.”  The point is simply to carry the word with you throughout the year and let God teach you about it through His Word.  Nothing could be more fantastic.

I told you, Dear Reader, that our future is bright for 2016 and it can be richer with a simple word.  So, tell me, what’s your “WORD” for 2016?

Keep Shining

standard December 31, 2015 Leave a response

Can you believe that another year has passed us by? Wow! That went quick.

It feels like just yesterday I was nervously hitting the “publish” button on my very first blog post here at Reflecting Light waiting to see if anyone other than my family and besties would read it.  But you did and I am beyond grateful for each and every word that you read!  You will never know how much your comments and encouragement and shares have blessed me.  Each one touched my heart and I do not take your kindness for granted.  It is a true gift.

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Looking back, we tackled some controversial topics such as True Love Is Not Grey and America the Broken, but we also had a lot of fun with Back to School Blues, Southern Snow Days, and Shrimp & Grits.  We explored different theological truths such as Joy, Peace, Forgiveness and How to Pray.  To be sure, there were plenty of technological challenges to overcome (i.e. upside down pics, unattached media, etc.), but for the most part I had so much fun putting the posts together and I learned to give myself lots of grace (which is hard for a first-born perfectionist to do).

But most importantly, I hope you saw the LIGHT of Christ in every post that you read.  It is only because of Him that we exist and have our being and I pray that He was glorified.

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Looking ahead, our future looks bright! Each one of us has an opportunity to reflect Christ’s light in a way that is unique and will touch the lives of others.  The way that you reflect His light in your everyday life is different from the way that I do and that’s what makes each one of us valuable and beautiful in His eyes.

What do you say we take hold of 2016 and use it as an opportunity to continue REFLECTING LIGHT in our everyday lives?  Keep Shining, Beautiful One. This world needs YOUR LIGHT.